For the third time this year protesters attended Monday morning's University at Buffalo Council meeting to urge member to use their power to create a living wage stipend for teaching assistants and graduate students.
"The average stipend right now is $18,000. That doesn't include fees that brings it down to $16,000 a year. Some graduate students are getting as low as $8,000 a year," said Willis McCumber, a UB teaching assistant.
Those are all numbers lower than the $24,000 the MIT Living Wage Calculator estimates is the cost of living in Buffalo McCumber said.
For graduate students, some tasked with duties like teaching full classes, the gap in pay makes it hard to get by.
"Having to work second jobs is a big one, having difficulty paying rent,” he said. “International graduate students face a real challenge, because they can't work a second job on their visas.”
"I'd like to see policy-driven increments to graduate student stipends that are tied to the price of living,” said Barbara Bono, an associate professor at UB. “This is a living stipend movement.”
After finishing its scheduled business, the UB Council left the meeting without addressing stipends, while McCumber and his group chanted for change.
The university released a statement saying between scholarship tuition, a stipend and health benefits graduate students who work as teaching assistants receive a funding package averaging close to $38,000 per year.
A school spokesperson said last year the College of Arts and Sciences implemented a process for raising yearly student teaching stipends.